With the world in a tailspin, it’s been hard to do anything but tread water – hasn’t it? Brian has recently started to try and give me a little time in the day, every day, to myself. It feels like such a luxury. It’s stirring my creativity again. A creativity mixed with anxiety, but that’s probably to be expected. I am working on an art journal to chronicle our Pandemic experience. I have time to write a blog.
In some ways, our life has only changed for the better. Brian is home more, and we actually get to see him. I have time for a garden and for perfecting my Strawberry Shortcake recipe. Asher and I have time for busy Montessori-style work and craft projects. In some ways it’s better. Just some.
Still, it feels like a horrible slog through most days. Asher doesn’t understand why Dad is in the house, but unavailable to him. He keeps asking me if he can go to school, or to see Amma, or to the park. It breaks my heart to tell him no.
“Remember, honey? We need to keep the Coronavirus from traveling to see anybody. Right?” I told him the other day.
“I WANT the Coronavirus to come.” he said with a classic pouty mouth and a stamp of his feet.
“You don’t really,” I said. “Coronavirus makes everyone feel yucky. We don’t want that.”
“Humpf,” was the reply.
We each have a Covid Freak Out Day (TM) about once a week. I’ve tried to make them less traumatic by just accepting that it’s going to happen and preparing for it. Still, it doesn’t make them feel any better when they do come around. I’m starting to track what’s happening the day of and the day before freak outs to see if we can interrupt the cycle. I’m pretty sure mine are triggered by watching Asher cry at the office door when Brian is in an important meeting and he can’t go in. He won’t be moved or distracted. I’ve tried. And then I hold him on the floor of the hallway while he sobs and I feel so powerless…
In the mean time, I’m running a small Montessori Home School over here with the help of Asher’s teachers. As a teacher myself, stuck in a virtual system, I KNOW how hard his teacher is working to provide individualized lesson plans for all of the students. And I know that teaching virtually is about three times as much work as teaching in a classroom. But as a teacher, I also know that lesson planning is about 1/3 of the job. Delivering the lesson and classroom management are HUGE parts of teaching that I am taking on with little help and no formal training (my training is for teens in English – not preschool Montessori). I’m mostly doing well. We’re a few days behind the schedule the school has given us, though, because sometimes I need to get materials for the activities. This has necessitated absorbing some lesson planning duties on my part as well.
Living near the University of Redlands has been a huge boon for us, though, because when it all gets to be horrible and we all have been in the living room too long, we go through a drive-through and find a vacant lawn to have dinner on. We smell the roses and listen to the birds. Asher runs. Everyone feels better.
I don’t have a point, really, except to say that this is hard. My family is doing this, in some ways, under the BEST possible conditions. And it still feels impossible but oh-so important. We’re hanging in there. We’re learning new skills.
I’m going to post some activities as a closer. If you’re wondering what I’ve been doing with Asher, or maybe looking for ideas for your own toddler, here are some of the activities he’s loved:
In the rainbow rice bin. You can see his construction trucks around the edge.
Rainbow Rice! We used the method of pouring craft paint into the rice and mushing it around. Asher helped mush the color with me, so it was a double activity. Good things to put in the rice have included cups and funky spoons for pouring (ice cream scoop!), a hinged tea ball, and some small construction trucks.
License plate in the mouth, putting flowers in the vase.
Flower Arranging. I do it a little differently than the linked post. Asher isn’t really strong enough to use scissors yet (he can’t get them back open after closing them), so I pre-cut the stems to size before he arranges the flowers. Also, he arranges in a dry vase which I fill with water afterwards.
Water pouring. That look of concentration on his face is a huge aim of Montessori learning.
Water Pouring. We use a small tea pot and a glass canning jar.
Asher stirred the batter and mashed the strawberries for my Mother’s Day breakfast.
Cooking and Baking: Asher does a lot of the prep work with me when I’m in the kitchen. He stirs mixes, peels oranges and bananas, mushes strawberries with the potato masher, cuts soft things with his wavy chopper, and salts and peppers veggies to go in the oven. He has even moved on to stirring hot pots on the stove (with plenty of supervision and a long spoon, of course). We usually “take turns” with this stuff so it really gets done, since most of his efforts are brief and incomplete. He’s only 2 1/2, so he gets a pass.